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Int J Ayu Pharm Chem


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A Review on Fundamental Principles of Varmam – An Ancient

Siddha Medical Science

S. Sugunthan1*, R. Shailaja2 and M. Mohamed Musthafa3

National Institute of Siddha, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, India
Govt Siddha Medical College, Chennai. Tamil Nadu, India
Department of Varmam & Puramaruthuvam, Govt Siddha Medical College,Chennai., Tamil Nadu, India

Varmam is the special branch of Siddha Medical system still in practice in Southern parts of
Tamil Nadu, especially, in Kanya Kumari and in Southern parts of Kerala. The systematic study
of varmam energy in the application of martial arts and therapeutic usage is called as
Varmakalai. This medical science had been developed by Tamil Siddhas from ancient times and
being transferred to generations through oral tradition, palm leaf and paper manuscripts. Varmam
points are bio-energetic sites through which subtle vital energy flows and aid physiological
functions of the body. These points are located in the junctions of nerves, naadis, muscle and
bones. This review brings out the history, classification of varmam, physiological action and
pathological aspects of varmam, its relation with bio-energy transmitter pathways (naadi),
angular energy connections(Kona nilai) and the application of this art in therapeutics. It plays a
promising role in reviving a person from unconscious state, instant pain management in neuro-
musculo-skeletal diseases and also in other ailments. The datas were collected from traditional
paper manuscripts and printed books.

Varmam, Siddha, Neuro-musculo-skeletal diseases

Greentree Group
Received 02/04/16 Accepted 23/04/16 Published 10/05/16
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INTRODUCTION transmitter pathways (Naadis), vital energy

Siddha Medical System is a unique system, (Vaasi) and Kundalini4,5,6.

being contemporaneous with many ancient VARMAM POINTS

medical systems of the world, dwelt among The places where the vaasi energy resides

the Tamil people of South India rendering and activates both body and life-energy are

service to humanity for more than five Varmam points7,8. These points are located

thousand years in combating diseases and in in the junctions of nerves, naadis, muscle

maintaining physical, mental, social and and bones9. They are bio-energetic sites

spiritual health1. The system is based on which aid physiological functions of the

writings of Siddhas, who are eminent body.

philosophical, spiritual and medicinal HISTORY OF VARMAKALAI

scientists given their contributions in It is believed that Lord Shiva the first siddha
medicine formulations, rasavadham taught the art of Varmam to his son
(alchemy), kayakarpam (revjuvenation), Murugan. The lineage extends to Siddha
yogam, varmam, medical astrology, Agathiar, Nanthi devar and their
panjapatchi sastram, saram2 etc., disciples10,11,12. Most of the Varmam texts
Varmam is the special branch of Siddha available in Tamil language were written in
Medicine. Though it gained popularity as the name of Siddhas Agathiyar,
martial art, its immense medical benefits for Thirumoolar, Bogar, Therayar, Romarishi,
many ailments are still ignored. The basic Ramadevar. Varmam art has been sustained
principles of Varmam science explain the and nourished for centuries by the tradition
fundamentals of Siddha Medical system. of aasan (the master) and disciple. The
VARMAM master would take up the responsibilities of
Varmam is a vital energy flow circulating passing his own verified, experimental and
inside the body3. It is the manifestation of textual knowledge to his trusted student who
the basic five elements (Iym Bootham), would continue the same process down the
three bio-humours (vali, azhal, iyam), ten line. This art survived and strengthened its
vital airs (Vali 10), ten bio-energy roots through this process for centuries and
still exists even today on the same principle.

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SYNONYMS OF VARMAM: Varma Chinthamani explains there

The Varmam energy is denoted by the are 828 varmam points which are situated in

names like Vaasi, Puravi, Kattru, Uyir, three regions (kandam) of the body. i.e.,

Maigai, Pranan, Kalai, Swasam, Saram, Vatha region which constitutes navel to foot

Yogam, Param, Sivam3. and contains 190 varmams, pittha region

Vayu, Sarvathma, kalam, Prakasamana includes the area between navel and base of

kattru, Jeevan, Moochu, Akirana kentha the neck comprises 366 varmams,

aavi, Saivam, Aarubi8. silaethuma region includes the region above

CLASSIFICATION OF VARMAM the head containing 182 varmams and 90

varmams are included in thondham15.
There are two kinds of classification. One is
Padu varmams are the varmam points which
based upon region wise distribution
are directly connected to brain energy16 and
(Kandam -5) and the other is based upon
serve as major energy storage points.
chakraas (Aadharam- 6). In both kinds, the
According to “Pingala nigandu17”, the word
total number of Varmam points is said to be
‘padu’ means brain. Thodu varmams are the
108 in number. The number of Varmam
varmam points which are connected to padu
points located in upper limb is 15, lower
varmams. The word ‘thodu’ refers to touch.
limb is 14, below the navel is 9, above the
It means through the act of touch, one
navel is 45 and above the neck is 2513.
varmam point gets connected to another
varmam point. Each paduvarmam is
Varmam points are the places which
connected to eight thodu varmams i.e., 8 x
activate, regulate, supplies energy and
12 = 96 Thodu varmam. They serve as
functions according to the body needs. The
minor energy storage points.
Varmam text “Varma Vilvisai” enumerates
The total number of Varmam points which
8000 Varmam points and Kumbamuni
accounts to 108 comprises two
narambarai describes 251 points14. Most of
terminologies Varmam and Kaalam. The
the Varmam texts enlist 108 Varmam points
word Varmam refers to static energy and the
of which 12 are padu varmams and 96 are
term Kaalam refers to kinetic energy 14.
thodu varmams.
Other types of Varmam mentioned in the
texts are vatha varmam (64), pitha
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varmam(26), silaethuma The chief functions are receiving,

varmam(6)18.Varmam literatures also transmitting, sending and serving as energy
describes patchi varmam (varmam related transformers14. Thus varmam points perform
with astrology-panjapatchi), odukki ten functions which differ accordingly.
varmam19, thattu varmam etc., This function is aided by energy flow
VARMAM PHYSIOLOGY like Aadhara Satthi, Gnana Satthi, Analam

Varmam energy plays an important role in Satthi, Mano Satthi, Kaaya Satthi, Usuvasa

maintaining the physiology of the human Satthi, Nisuvasa Satthi, Aathara Satthi14,

body. Varma Kannadi18 exemplifies that the etc. The track through which these energy

Varmam energy helps to protect the physical flows touch some Varmam points and aids

body. its functions by stimulating the predominant

The physiology of Varmam point occurs by vital air. It is interesting to note that all

the principle of ‘kona nilai’ (Angular Varmam points are not related to naadi, and

connections between Varmam points. The there are certain Varmam points which will

Varmam points and energy pathways are stimulate the flow of these bio-energy

interconnected by angular connections14. It tracks.

refers to geometric pathways through which VARMAM PATHOLOGY22,23,24

the Varmam energy traverses from one point The basic principles of Varmam medical
to another. They are circular in the head, science explain the fundamentals of Siddha
crescent shaped in the neck, hexagon on the Medicine. Since the Varmam point is
chest, square shaped in the upper abdomen, composed of units of Vatham, Pitham,
triangle in male on the lower abdomen, Silaethumam, any derangement in these
inverted triangle in the female on the lower units will lead to a disease. As vatham and
abdomen, pentagon on the back . The varmam are air flow, an imbalance in the
knowledge of konanilai is very vatham directly reflects the varmam energy
indispensable while doing Varmam resulting in a disease. Likewise improper
treatment and massage. Any hindrance in angular function (kona nilai) will also leads
the angular connections leads to diseases. to disease.

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When a varmam point is affected the part of in the maintenance of homeostasis between
the body in which it is located and the other vatham, pitham kapham. Any damage to the
parts connected with also develop disease flow of these naadis results in a disease.
due to the derangement of bio-humours. There are twelve padu varmam or major
Therefore Varmam treatment if started points in the human body. They are thilardha
earlier with the above said parameters, kaalam, natchathira kaalam, pidari kaalam,
patient shall be given the best treatment to sevikutri kaalam, urakka kaalam, thummi
alleviate the root cause of the disease. kaalam, ner varmam, urumi kaalam, adappa
VARMAM AND NAADI kaalam, siria athisurukki, valiya athisurukki,

Siddhars enumerate ‘Naadi’ as a kallidai kaalam. Each varmam point is

fundamental principle of art of varmam. linked with twelve naadis namely

According to Siddhars, the term ‘Naadi’ is suzhumunai naadi, pingkalai naadi, idakalai

not applicable to just channels in which naadi, singuvai, purudan, kaanthari, asani,

blood flows, but also extends to energy karu, alampurudan, pasali, visulodharan,
streams through which vital energy flows25. sangini naadi respectively Thus,
The Varmam text called ‘Kumbamuni the composition of Varmam with energy
Narambarai’ lists out 18 kinds of Naadis. track (Naadi), vital air (Vaayu) and basic
Of these, twelve Naadis are considered pranan (Vaasi) is being elicited. Naadis are
medically important and are explained in like meridian systems of Varmam energy
most Varmam texts. Each naadi is flow like Acupuncture.
connected varmam. Among them, three VARMAM AND MEDICAL
Naadis are given great emphasis when it ASTROLOGY
comes to maintaining health. The knowledge In Siddha medical astrology, panjapatchi
about naadi is important for a Varmam which encompass characters of five birds
physician to know the pathogenesis of represents the influence on five elements on
disease and to give treatment. human body. These birds are related with
Three naadis Idakalai, Pingkalai, five internal organs like falcon to spleen
Suzhumunai which are connected to abanan, (vallooru), owl to liver, crow to gall bladder,
pranan and samanan vayus are important cock to lungs and peacock to heart

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according to Varmam science18, 27. They are thasa vaayu, vaasi, ethirkalam, marukalam,
further linked to twenty seven stars. adangal, adukkugal, sarappai, amirtha
The word amirthanilai refers to energy nilaigal, kona nilaigal. Treatment should be
circulation from big toe to head and then started considering the Naadi, Ethir Kaalam,
from head to big toe. This is usually based Maru Kalam.
upon lunar effect in which from no moon Adangals are the places of enormous energy
day, the energy from right big toe traverses storage and can be called as bio-energy
upwards to head and from full moon day the transformers. They are the places where the
energy descends from head to big toe. vital idakalai and pingkalai naadi meets25.
Varmam text emphasize there are fifteen They are used for emergency treatment to
places where the elixir like energy flow revive a person from unconsciousness.
18, 27
(amirdham) is stored on particular days When adangals are ineffective, thiravukols
which help to ascertain the quantum of are advocated. Varmam texts describe in
impact of varmam injury and also to detail about 110 adangals and 13
diagnose and treat diseases. thiravukols14. It is very important to learn
LOCATIONS OF VARMAM these techniques only from a proficient Guru

POINTS or aasan, which is also suggested in Siddha

Varmam literatures.
Varmam points in the body can be
determined by anatomical location, VARMAM POINTS
proportional measurement, graphical STIMULATION METHODS
measuring method, locating by reference to When anyone of the basic functions of
adjacent varmam points, location by Varmam is affected it leads to disease. The
classification, finger breadth measurement treatment Protocol includes stimulation of
method, thread - measurement method Varmam points, external treatment like
A deep knowledge about Varmalogy is Oileation, Ilaikizhi, Neikizhi, Mamisa kizhi,
needed to exhibit the Siddha pathology. It is Purakayiru, Thuvalai, Pattru etc and
further needed to execute Thadaval Murai internal medicines varies according to age,
(Massage). Because each and every stroke sex and physical body type29.
advocated is based upon thuvathasa naadi,

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The stimulation of Varmam points is called VARMAM STIMULATION FOR

as ‘Kaibaham’, ‘seibhagam’5,30. This is DISEASES
executed in 12 different ways like anukkal, The Varmam points are energy storage
asaithal, thattal, thadaval, yenthal, oondral, points which traverse through particular
pidithal, nazhukkal, amarthal, pathukkal, energy channels or streams. Proper
14 22
karakkal, pinnal .Varma soodi explains stimulation of Varmam points helps in
about pidithal, , nazhukkal, karakkal, treatment of diseases. One who knows to
pathukkal, thattal21. apply varmam in a proper method by
Each Varmam can be applied in 12 different analysing the Vatham, Pitham,
ways in four different amount of pressure Silaethumam’s imbalance can treat diseases.
(Mathirai) i.e. Mathirai Kanakku – Pathi We can infer that each varmam point
Kanakku . These parameters refer to constitutes idakalai, pingkalai, suzhumunai
amount of pressure applied during Varmam naadi and vatham, pitham, silaethumam in
treatment. The depth of touch is Mathirai different proportions. Thus tuning apt
Kanakku and the Pressure of touch is Pathi varmam points in proper methodologies help
Kanakku. A sound knowledge of to treat disease by balancing the three
application of Varmam points in this context humours, whose imbalance cause diseases.
can be best gained in Gurukula training. In olden times, it is often employed to revive
VARMAM MEDICINES a person from unconscious state and to
Apart from these manipulative techniques, correct the energy flow of the person who
Varmam literatures encompass medicines of has fallen from great height like trees. This
herbal and animal origin. These are unique, therapy serves as main therapy in the
as the preparation and availability of most of management of neuro-musculo-skeletal
the ingredients in the formulations are diseases and also as an adjuvant therapy for
confined to South Tamil Nadu, India. They many illnesses relating to gastro intestinal
are usually used in fractures, chronic conditions, seizures, depression, menstrual
diseases both internally and externally. To disorders, respiratory conditions etc. This
name a few, Kaaya thirumeni tailam30,31, may work by regulating the neuro
Kaaya sarvangam Kaaya rajangam transmitter flow, synaptic transmission and
tailam32, Murivennai33, Vasavennai etc30., signal pathways.
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Thus the review had thrown light on the
ancient Tamil language based Varmam
medical science which possesses keys to
fundamentals of Siddha Medical System in
aspects of foetal formation, physiology and
pathology of body through maintenance of
basic five elements, body humours, naadi
etc. Varmam, a vital point manipulation
technique helps to correct the subtle things
of the body. Extensive scientific researches
should be carried out to evaluate the
mechanism and pathway of Varmam energy
flow which renders remedy for many
ailments without side effects and often with
minimum medicines.

The authors acknowledge their profound
gratitude to Aasan Prof. Dr. N. Shunmugom
Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of
Tamil, Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidhyalaya
college of Arts and Science, Coimbatore, for
inculcating the seeds of Varmam knowledge
and ablest guidance.

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